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California Boat & Boating Accidents



California is a great place for water fun, including boating, riding jet skis, and more. This also makes the state a good place for boating accidents, as reflected in its rank as the state with the second-highest number of both boating accidents and fatal accidents. According to the latest U.S. Coast Guard report, California accounted for about 8.6 percent of all boating accidents in the nation.

If you've been involved in one of these accidents, it is a good idea to talk with an attorney experienced with boating accidents, and start building a defense or to evaluate whether you want to file a personal injury suit.

Boat Safety Education and Accidents

Taking a course in boating safety may be the best thing a boat operator, and passengers for that matter, can do before getting on the water. Of all the boating fatalities in 2011, only 11 percent involved operators who had received such instruction.

Four of the top five primary contributors to accidents in 2011 were directly related to operator behaviors, such as:

  • Inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed

The only non-operator related cause was machinery failure.

Alcohol no longer makes the top five primary contributors, but ranks as the top contributing factor in fatal accidents, according to the USCG report. Operating a boat while drunk (blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher) is illegal. But even at half the legal limit, your judgment and coordination may be impaired. If you injure someone while under the influence, you could face felony charges.

While passengers may legally drink, getting drunk increases your risk of falling overboard. Alcohol also impairs your ability to get yourself back to safety, and in cold water you risk hypothermia and even death.

When to Hire an Attorney

It's always a good idea to talk with an experienced boating attorney after an accident. As the boat operator, you may need advice about the likelihood of facing criminal or civil charges. An experienced lawyer can also advise you whether you need to report the accident to the California Department of Boating and Waterways and how much time you have to do so.

If you were injured in a boating incident, get medical attention immediately to asses the extent of your injuries and document them for any personal injury case you may have. Then talk to a boating accident lawyer.

Whatever your role in the accident, call 877-913-7222 for a referral to a California boat accident attorney.